Is it safe to send kids to daycare during COVID pandemic? What precautions should you take while returning to the daycare during pandemic? What to look for at childcare during Covid pandemic?
Though the majority of the states in India have lifted the lockdown, bidding farewell to corona fear and the tough times of COVID-19 pandemic seems far from ending.
Among these, the good thing is that most of the firms are coming back to their normal routine with proper precautionary protocols. But, isn’t it true that every good thing has its own troubles? This phase of back to normal also has brought many troubles and questions with it.
As the normal routine is taking its pace and corona continues to spread, the working parents are worried about their children. Taking into consideration the type of work, some of the parents are left with no choice but to send the children to daycare centers even during this pandemic. Being a working parent myself, I am also concerned about sending my child to daycare. While the schools still remain shut, we have concerns and confusion regarding the safety measures in daycare centers.
The big question is- Is it safe to send my child to daycare during COVID pandemic?
The answer is- it depends on many factors. The safety measures followed by the child care center, the immunity of your child, and the health condition of old people at home are just some of the factors deciding a return to day care during coronavirus.
11 Guidelines on Returning to Daycare during COVID Pandemic
Studying the present situation minutely, I have listed a few important guidelines to be considered when it comes to sending your child to daycare during the coronavirus pandemic. I hope you, as a parent, feel a bit relieved and can take a decision after reading this article.
1. The area you live
Although the daycare is safe and taking all the safety precautions, the area where you live counts a major factor. If you live in an area where the infections are spreading faster, it is recommended that you don’t send your child to childcare during the pandemic. You may hire a nanny or child-care assistance following all safety precautions at your home.
2. Maximum capacity allowed in the daycare
As a precautionary measure, the government in your area must have laid out a rule on the maximum capacity allowed in each crèche/daycare according to the size of the facility and the number of staff. Choose childcare that strictly follows this. One with the least number of kids will be the best to choose to ensure less mingling outside your own family.
3. Social distancing and wearing masks
Kids above the age of 2 years must wear masks, but it is not easy to get the children to wear masks. Making them follow social distancing norms is even more difficult. As parents, it is your responsibility to teach kids to wear masks. Practice mask-wearing at home.
The center you choose should have enough space and facilities to follow social distancing rules without compromise. The staff should be strict to follow the rules and mask-wearing norms.
4. Staff to kids ratio
It is advisable that a caregiver takes care of the same child or group of children throughout this pandemic time. This will help to trace the contacts easily if need be. Also sticking to “the same caregiver for the same group” policy will ensure that the staffs also mingle with a lesser number of people. The center you choose should follow the adult to children ratio keeping this in mind.
5. Think about your risk tolerance
According to WHO, the children are at lower risks of getting serious illnesses related to COVID-19. Still, if the child is suffering from any underlying diseases like asthma, it is best not to send the child to daycare.
There is no evidence that children can’t act as carriers. That means, children can bring the virus home if they are exposed to the virus. That, in turn, can be potentially dangerous for the other family members at risk.
The family members with medical conditions like- diabetes, lung disease, or heart problems are at higher risk of getting infected. In case you have a high-risk member at home, it is safer not to send the child to daycare during COVID pandemic. In such cases, choose the families following social distancing norms similar to your family and share child-care responsibilities with them.
6. Playtime at daycare
As mentioned earlier, we face trouble with children in maintaining social distancing. Games that involve less physical contact is better during these times. Also, it is a good idea to allow the children to play with the same pre-decided group every day instead of allowing them to mingle with other kids.
The toys and games used for kids should be cleanable and sanitizable. Children should be encouraged to wash their hands repeatedly. This can be done by displaying the hand-wash picture charts and explaining to them the importance of hand wash through the stories.
7. Pickup and drop-off
As older people are more at risk, only parents should choose to pick up and drop the child instead of grand-parents.
The child must be escorted by a staff member and handed over to the parent. Designated areas and time slots should be allotted for pick up and drop off. The childcare provider should also see that contact with the guardians is likewise restricted.
For pick up and drop off, better depend on your own transportation. In case you have to depend on the vehicle provided by the daycare, make sure that the vehicle is sanitized as per the standards. The bus/van driver should strictly follow the maximum capacity limit allowed. Seating arrangements must be as per safety standards.
8. Health screening and emergency plan
Health screening of both the kids and staff ought to be mandatorily done at the childcare during Covid pandemic. Anybody with 100.4 degrees of temperature or higher ought not to be permitted inside the childcare.
Daycare providers should also check for the other symptoms like fussiness, breathing difficulty, and other visible COVID symptoms.
As a parent, you should check for the quality of the health screening facility at your childcare. You should also know about the rules and safety measures to be taken in an unfortunate instance of suspected COVID positive. An emergency plan and a separate isolation area must be there at the childcare for keeping kids with symptoms before handing them over to parents.
9. Food and drinks
It is better to send a tiffin box with your child than depend on the food provided by the daycare. The staff in the childcare must ensure that food isn’t shared. If kids need help to eat, the same staff member should handle every time to reduce the chances of mingling.
For infants, check if there is proper equipment available to sterilize bottles and utensils before and after each use. Staff also should follow hand hygiene and standard preparation guidelines while making bottle-feeds.
10. Cleanliness and hygiene
Cleanliness and hygiene are the two important factors in any daycare during COVID pandemic. The toys, games, doorknobs, floors, chairs, desks, etc must be cleaned and sanitized frequently.
If there is nap time for smaller kids, beddings that are washable are best. Ensure they are washed or sterilized according to the guidelines. It is better to label your child’s bedding. Ask the daycare staff to store them in separate bins or boxes to avoid mixing up.
The young children tend to crawl, salivate, and excrete all over the place. So, hygiene must be strictly maintained in the daycare during COVID pandemic. Following these steps would lower the exposure risks to the kids.
The childcare facility should have proper waste disposal techniques as per COVID safety standards to dispose of soiled diapers, masks, and gloves.
11. Keep kids home if sick
If your child is sick or feeling unwell please keep them home. Not sending your sick child to daycare is critical to stop further spread of the disease.
Choose a daycare that complies with the above-mentioned measures and guidelines. Also, verify that the childcare facility is certified by the concerned authorities to remain open and working.
Take your decision keeping these points in mind. You can also refer to guidelines by CDC on the working of daycare during COVID pandemic. I hope this article guides you in the right direction.
Also, please note that the recommendations may change as we learn new information about COVID-19 on a daily basis. I would also recommend keeping the plan-B ready incase the daycare centers decide to close suddenly due to any cluster infection.
Share your valuable feedback on how this article helped you to make your decision on returning to daycare during COVID pandemic.